The Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) and Heart of the Customer conducted a survey over one hundred customer experience practitioners and consultants who have experience with journey mapping. The ensuing infographic details some of the key findings and best practices for gaining customer insights. Here’s a preview:
While this infographic is a helpful read, it’s vitally important to develop buyer personas to fully understand what is motivating your key decision makers both emotionally and rationally. Knowing what appeals to the emotional side of buyers helps companies craft messages that are potentially unknown to competitors and can persuade buyers to choose you. You also need to explore the more rational drivers in their purchasing criteria through a series of questions surrounding their daily job activities, responsibilities and priorities.
Personas help create offers, messages, and sales and marketing strategies that foster human connections to the individuals who are making purchase decisions. For example, VantagePoint has developed a series of buyer personas across multiple industries including foodservice, healthcare, IT and manufacturing. As the study mentions, I strongly encourage you to conduct in-depth interviews by phone or in person to gain key insights that will best guide the buyer journey.
Standing out amidst a sea of web designs can be a big challenge in 2019. Standardization of grid layout and widespread adoption of reliable frameworks such as Bootstrap have culminated in a new, ubiquitous style of website. In fact, some have pointed out that all websites look the same.
As a reaction to this uniformity, many UX designers have made deliberate attempts to break the mold, creating an original web interface without compromising the all-powerful grid. Here are some great trends that are pushing the envelope:
Minimal, interaction-driven animation
Going beyond simple button animations, you’ll see subtle but resource-friendly animations. A good example is Onix, using monochromatic line art and scroll-takeover to create an immersive experience without a taxing load time.
Users know that screen time equals eye strain. Both Windows and Mac have introduced “Dark Mode” as a kinder inversion to the typically brighter reading formats. Websites have also begun offering dark palettes for the same reasons. See how 3dhubs uses a darker design.
Motion as design
Motion-as-design-element has been popular for a few years now, but even today, incorporating impactful video or animated GIF as a replacement for a typical image banner can impart narrative punch. The trick is to incorporate resource-light video loops versus the (typically hefty) five-minute video. Save those for Vimeo or Wistia. Diko uses motion as design on its home page effectively.
While sans serif fonts are still preferred for legible body text, using serif fonts on your website can add distinct elegance for headers and call-out text. For a good example, check out Engaged Cornell’s use of serif header font in tandem with sharp sans-serif copy to add personality to a minimal design.
Organic and surreal artwork
Over the past decade, designers adopted minimalist design standards to promote legibility and UX ease. This choice was made in part due to the image-heavy, sometimes Flash-driven websites of the early Aughts. Recently, however, many designers who wish to have a finely illustrative website and still be resourceful have adopted a more tactile approach. Some have a distinct style that mimics paper craft, collage or ink (and doesn’t tax bandwidth). For example, see Mailchimp’s latest rebrand and the illustration hub Humaans.com.
Have you noticed websites starting to look the same? What have you seen that helps to set some apart from others? Leave a comment below.
But instead of trying to look at all of the options available, your best bet is to determine the objective for your content to narrow it down. This will lead you on the path to the most meaningful approach to measurement.
Here are some examples of content objectives and three corresponding key performance indicators (KPIs).
Objective: Brand awareness KPIs to consider: Total sessions for content web pages, new users, clicks from social channels
Objective: Thought leadership KPIs to consider: Share of voice, keyword match, bounce rate
Objective: Lead generation KPIs to consider: Conversion events, marketing-qualified leads, asset downloads
Objective: Customer loyalty KPIs to consider: Net promoter score, email subscriptions, return user rate
Don’t let the task of selecting relevant KPIs keep you from accurately measuring your content marketing efforts. Determining the KPIs based on your overall objective will set you down the right path — one that leads to success you can quantify.
Greenville, SC – VantagePoint Marketing, a nationally recognized business-to-business marketing agency with special expertise in foodservice, has hired Damien Pierce as director of digital strategy.
In this role, Pierce will be responsible for developing digital strategies for VantagePoint clients and supporting account teams in implementing digital marketing initiatives, in addition to enhancing the agency’s current digital communications strengths and new service offerings.
“Damien has a passion for digital trends and how brands interact with digital properties,” said Henry Pellerin, VantagePoint president and CEO. “His focus on developing and executing digital marketing plans will expand our capabilities and help our clients better engage their audiences.”
Pierce has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas and an MBA from the University of South Carolina. He has more than 17 years of digital marketing experience, including digital lead generation, email marketing, website development, marketing automation, digital advertising and database building and management.
About VantagePoint Marketing VantagePoint Marketing is a nationally recognized business-to-business marketing agency with a primary focus on foodservice clients. Headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina, it is ranked nationally as one of Chief Marketer’s 2017 B2B Top Shops, is a ten-time winner of the Business Marketing Association of the Carolinas’ Agency of the Year award and has been named one of the small/midsized Best Places to Work in South Carolina for six consecutive years. Founded in 1993, VantagePoint takes an integrated approach in offering its clients expertise in marketing, advertising, branding, digital and public relations. For more information, visit www.vantagep.com.
1. If targets can walk away from the show knowing one thing about our brand or products, what should it be?
This question should be informed, if not outright answered, by your response to the “what are our specific goals/top objectives” question of the strategic planning phase. Out of all the tactical-level questions to ponder, this is the most important response to take time and get right. It’ll have some level of influence on everything booth-related, from communications efforts to booth graphics and more.
2. How are we going to drive booth traffic and stand out?
While you may hope all your targets know you’ll be at the tradeshow and will prioritize visiting your booth while there, unfortunately that’s not always the case. In reality, your targets have a number of to-dos while at the show, making it critical to ensure you’re on their short list. Consider pre- and at-show communication (more on this below), in-booth events or features, and giveaways to better ensure your booth is a top-of-mind priority.
3. What are our options for pre-, at- and post-show communication?
Building off of the point above, it’s ideal to contact targets before a show begins to make sure they’re aware of your presence at the tradeshow and why they’ll benefit from making an appearance. This could be done via direct mail, email, show publications or more unconventional tactics (such as running geo-targeted digital ads during the show). Tactics used will be determined largely by whether show attendee lists are available, what your budget is and which methods are most effective with your audience. Furthermore, ensure you’ve budgeted to keep those show leads warm via post-show follow-up efforts.
Having a booth space at a tradeshow is often a massive investment of time and resources, but thorough strategic tradeshow planning can be quickly undermined if you fail to ensure your tactical execution is maximizing that investment. Use the tips above as a starting point to that end, and feel free to sound off in the comments section on other tactical items you consider foundational.
Marketing copy just doesn’t write itself. (Nor do plays, movies, or Netflix shows, but that’s another blog for another day.) But even as a creative with a pretty good deal of writing experience under my belt, sometimes I forget that.
The other night a Chevy truck ad interrupted one of the few TV shows I watch any longer, and the turns of phrase of the narrator stood out — so much so, that I immediately (and out loud, to my wife’s annoyance) credited the writer. (You can watch the ad at the end of the post.)
Chevy, like all pickup truck manufacturers, want consumers to feel like their brand is perfect for them — the real person. And, they acknowledge that, while pickup trucks still haul bales of hay and sheets of plywood, they are just as likely to be used as carpool vehicles or for grocery runs. So the way this copy flows, and the juxtaposition in each phrase, really works for me:
“It’s the official truck of calloused hands … and elbow grease.
It’s the official truck of getting TO work … and getting to WORK.
Of late nights … and date nights.
It’s the official truck of homecoming … and coming home.
It’s the official truck of real people.”
Whether the commercial will sell more trucks is another story, as folks seem to have some pretty strong opinion about the way the new Silverado looks. But, from a creative standpoint, and from a strategy standpoint, the writers have done their job well. (Finding credits for ads like this in advance of awards season is a bit challenging, but it looks like Dan Marvin and Dave Muller of Commonwealth/McCann deserve the kudos, based on a little internet sleuthing. Let me know if any of you find I’ve gotten that wrong.)
So here’s to all the copywriters out there — the pickup-driving kind, the VW Jetta-driving kind, and all the kinds in between.
Official Truck of Real People | Chevrolet - YouTube
When creating a strategic marketing plan, it is easy to focus on the bottom line. Lead generation and nurturing are important because properly managing sales leads is the only true way to attribute marketing efforts to business success.
However, an iconic line from the 2002 box office hit “My Big, Fat Greek Wedding” is echoing in my mind today. “Let me tell you something, Toula: The man is the head, but the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head any way she wants.” While lead generation is often our campaign objective, branding is at the core of every customer decision to engage (or not engage).
(Is my excitement for last weekend’s Greek festival influencing my writing, you ask? Yes. Greenville’s annual Greek festival is truly the most wonderful time of the year, and if homemade spanakopita isn’t something to get excited about, then I don’t know what is.)
Leads are the head, but branding is the neck, and branding can turn the head any way it wants. A recent study from LinkedIn surveyed over 500 business decision makers to nail down factors that impact their purchasing decisions. This article recaps the findings and notes that 52% of the decision makers indicated that the most influential factor on their engagement with a B2B salesperson was whether this person was representing a well-known company with a strong professional brand.
Here are three tips to make sure your branding supports your lead generation efforts:
Define your brand identity. The identity is the foundation on which a strong branding is built. Your mission statement, value proposition and brand promise are essential building blocks to building a solid, unified brand.
Create a consistent presence. A consistent presence that supports your core identity helps tell a story to your audience. Consistent messaging, voice, visuals all contribute to your audience’s perception of your brand.
Ensure your sales and marketing efforts are aligned. In order to successfully create and convert leads, you need strong brand presence to back the claims and benefits of working with your company. And a strong brand exists to supports sale efforts by creating and expanding selling opportunities with your target audience.
Branding has a direct correlation on prospect engagement. The success of your business relies on a defined brand identity, a consistent presence and the alignment of your sales and marketing efforts.
Tell us how your branding plays a role in your lead generation campaigns in the comments below!
Insightful research is always valuable to writers — and there are plenty of old, worn-out expressions about how 99% of writing takes place before pen ever touches paper. Research is certainly critical for copywriting, just as in life.
A few months ago, my wife and I were visiting family in Washington. Because of her extensive international travel through the years, she has developed a particular affinity for Ethiopian food and wanted me to try it for the first time. The Washington metro area happens to be home to the largest Ethiopian diaspora community outside of Africa — so needless to say, the Ethiopian food around D.C. is the best you can find.
I knew I needed to brush up before my first experience, not only so I wouldn’t embarrass myself at the table, but so I could fully appreciate it as well.
First, there’s behavioral research about what we do.
Then, there’s attitudinal research about what we say.
Next, there’s qualitative research about why we do things.
Finally, there’s quantitative research about measuring outcomes and results.
Considering Ethiopian food is traditionally served on a large, round platter that’s shared by the whole table, I knew some behavioral research was in order. I learned that the food is enjoyed communally — without silverware — encouraging prolonged conversation and a sense of shared participation.
Various individual preparations of vegetables and grains are placed around the edge of the platter and picked up using injera — a kind of malleable flatbread made from teff flour. We also ordered tibs — an extremely spicy stir-fried beef — which was placed in the middle.
Once I learned the basics of using injera (and got up the nerve to try some new and adventurous flavors), I found myself enjoying a new favorite type of international cuisine among the many I had tried before.
And in case you’re wondering about applying the other three research methods in order to learn more for your own Ethiopian dining experience, I can only say it was absolutely delicious (attitudinal), I was extremely hungry and then immediately full (qualitative) and — ultimately — I developed a real appreciation for a different culture and a really engaging way to enjoy food (quantitative). The results were in: I couldn’t wait for my next Ethiopian meal.
Another pro tip: Eat your Ethiopian food very, very slowly. It’s filling. Trust me, I researched this firsthand.
One basic marketing truth is that your brand should be reflected in everything you do, from the way you produce your products to the type of customer service you provide. But some types of services, like restaurant delivery, present a unique challenge. A recent Flavor & the Menu article explores the specific hurdles presented by delivery and how successful restaurants convey their brand beyond their physical location.
As convenience becomes more essential to our fast-paced society, the popularity of getting restaurant meals delivered is on the rise. But delivering food out of context of the normal restaurant experience creates some interesting questions related to branding:
How can a restaurant ensure delivered food has taste and quality consistent with its brand?
How can brand be clearly presented outside of the restaurant itself?
How can customers make a personal connection with the restaurant and its staff without seeing them?
The last thing a restaurant wants is for customers’ negative delivery experience to impact their view of the restaurant brand. Although evidence shows that most people have reasonable expectations about how transport affects food, it’s still important for delivery orders to leave a positive impression so that customers will go back for more.
For some restaurants, finding the balance between delivering their food quickly and preserving the quality of the experience is a matter of trial and error. Pincho, “a Miami-based fast casual inspired by Latin street food,” had to go through this process. After putting their delivery service on hold temporarily and then overhauling their system, Pincho came back with several basic changes to make their delivery shine. They changed their packaging to better preserve food consistency during transport, paved the way for fast service by pre-packaging their sauces, sent dressing packaged separately on the side to keep it cool, and replaced generic soft drinks in plastic cups with designer cans of Pepsi to make the experience stand out.
McAlister’s Deli, a popular sandwich chain, also came up with small but meaningful ways to improve their delivery experience. Their biggest change was adding tamper-proof stickers to delivery items, which lets a customer see that McAlister’s cares about the quality of the food they send out. In addition, McAlister’s tea, a major brand item, is not only offered for delivery, but has become the top selling delivery item for the company — which is unusual when beverages tend to be less popular in the restaurant delivery market.
Brandy Blackwell, the director of off-premise marketing for McAlister’s Deli, sums up their philosophy well: “Everything from our sticker to our packaging to our speed of service to any handwritten notes that get tucked in — it all represents our brand and is critical in how we tell our brand story in the delivery space.”
Village Tavern is a casual dining restaurant in North Carolina that is developing its to-go system with the idea of transitioning to delivery. Its corporate executive chief, Mary Grace Viado, stated their motivation as, “I want our customers to have a good experience so they trust us.”
Although these examples are consumer-based, B2B brands can take a cue from this out-of-the-box thinking. Establishing trust is the key, and these brands have made basic choices in their delivery process that help them connect with customers and develop trust in the integrity of their brand. What simple steps can you take to help your brand connect with your clients?